By Timothy Brown
A massive slip gouged the hillside above Blanket Bay northeast of Dunedin during the storm which pounded Otago on Saturday, tossing aside plants and possessions as it cut a kilometre-long path of destruction.
Blanket Bay Rd resident Gordon Sasse said he awoke to a ''couple of bangs'' outside his home about 4am on Saturday, which he attributed to possums on the roof.
Nothing could have prepared him for the sight which awaited him in the light of day.
''I couldn't get out,'' he said.
''[Mud] was right up to the windows. It's devastating.''
His landscaped gardens had been washed away and in its place was a sea of mud, which trapped him in his cottage.
Trees were torn from the earth and strewn along the slip's destructive path.
A trailer unit was swept about 400m into the lagoon at the foot of his property, missing his home in the process, as did a concrete mixer.
His truck was also damaged by the torrent of mud and his quad bike was ''crushed'', he said.
The Dunedin City Council had issued him an unsafe building notice, because of concerns about land stability, and he was unsure when he would be able to return home.
Incredibly, the house escaped with only minor damage.
''A window's broken ... but luckily it hasn't impacted on the house at all,'' Mr Sasse said.
There was no warning of the slip, as previous rainfall had presented no issues and water races protected the land.
''This is completely out of the blue,'' he said.
Mr Sasse had found a silver lining in the destruction.
''I'm a box of fluffies,'' he said, smiling. ''I have got the happy gene.
''It's a completely clear landscape [for redesign]. I have got a blank canvas.''